From bloating to bowel issues, it is estimated that around 9 million of us have problems with our digestive systems and the number of people being diagnosed with digestive disorders is on the rise. Not only that, but 1 in 5 people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that is characterised by diarrhoea, bloating and stomach cramps. Despite all this, it appears we are actually obsessed with our guts as we make our way through bowls and bowls of high-fibre cereals and downing pints of water, but at the end of the day we could we just be making our symptoms worse? Here are some tips that will allow you to notice some digestive improvements:
Stay hydrated - but not too much:
It's obviously important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day and it can work wonders on your digestive system. Not drinking enough water can significantly slow down your digestion, but drinking too much won't help at all. Many people are told to glug 3 litres of water every day, but it's not really necessary; just drink enough to keep your feeling hydrated and healthy.
Limit the fats:
Fats are particularly difficult to digest and too many of them can wreak havoc on your digestion as it significantly slows the process down. You can easily cut fats by keeping on top of a healthy diet, complete with low fat meats like chicken and lean cuts of pork or steak, a switch from fat to non-fat dairy and replacing butter with olive oil.
Strike the right balance of fibre:
The subject of fibre and digestive health can create some conflicting views, as some will suggest to eat more fibre and others will urge you to ditch it. Without a doubt, fibre is a necessity in a healthy diet as it helps to keep digestion running smoothly and without it we could be left full of gas and the discomfort of constipation. However too much and it will give the bowel even more work to do and it is rarely known for helping IBS symptoms. Don't cut out all fibre sources but don't load your body with too much either.
Keep on top of a healthy weight:
Studies have shown that even small amounts of weight gain could contribute to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which is a condition where the valve between the stomach and oesophagus doesn't close completely and allowing stomach acid back up. Losing a few pounds could help you to ease some of the pressure on your abdominal area and can also help to reduce heartburn and other digestive discomforts.
Take your time with your food:
Your digestive system definitely doesn't like to be rushed and eating too much, too quickly is the main culprit for heartburn and indigestion. Don't forget that it takes a little time for your brain to receive signals from your stomach letting it know that it's had enough food, so slow down while eating your meals. Give your stomach plenty of time to prepare proper digestion and allow your stomach to tell your brain that it's full.
Say yes to probiotics!
Anyone interested in the health of their gut should consider taking probiotics, also known as the good bacteria that live in the gut and aid a healthy digestion. Probiotics have been shown to fight excess bad bacteria in the gut and improve intestinal health. Why not try some live bacteria in natural Greek yoghurt by looking out for the words ?live and active cultures? on the container to ensure it provides a decent probiotic punch. You can also find multivitamins that are specifically filled with probiotics for a healthy gut.
It's okay to use laxatives:
Most people believe the myth that laxatives will damage the bowel, but it's best to empty the bowels regularly rather than suffering with the abdominal discomfort of constipation. Andrews Salts are perfect for this purpose as they are quite gentle on the digestive system but also neutralise excess stomach acid in order to help you feel comfortable and refreshed.